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State Board of Elections Halts Ballot Preparation

NC Board of Ethics and Enforcement
North Carolina State Board of Elections and Enforcement Facebook

The North Carolina Board of Elections said Wednesday it has stopped work on preparing ballots for the Nov. 6 general election after back-to-back judicial rulings this week questioned whether the election can proceed as planned.

On Monday, a three-judge panel said that the state's 13 congressional districts were created through an unconstitutional gerrymander based on partisanship. The panel proposed several possibilities for the upcoming election, including holding new primary elections in November and then a new general election after that, probably in December.

The North Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday said the board should stop preparing the ballot, siding with the North Carolina NAACP, who said in a lawsuit the language on four constitutional amendments is misleading. One of the amendments would place a requirement in the state constitution that some form of photo ID be used when voting.

The board said federal law requires that absentee-by-mail ballots be available by Sept. 22, which is 45 days before the election.

The board said it takes about three weeks to prepare and deliver ballots to counties, and that it needs to start working on the ballots by Sept. 1. The board also said it's "exploring additional options to ensure federal compliance if delays continue."

The biggest question mark is the ruling that said the state's congressional districts are unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs in the case, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, and the leadership of the General Assembly have been told by the panel to file briefs on the ruling by 5 p.m. Friday. The board is also expected to file a brief detailing its logistical challenges to halting the Nov. 6 election.

The GOP leadership in the legislature has also said it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay, allowing the Nov. 6 Congressional election to continue as planned.

Political observers believe the Supreme Court will move to let the congressional election proceed, and then allow the three-judge panel to fix the congressional maps in early 2019. But it's possible the court could be split 4-4, which would allow Monday's ruling to stand.